Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tiddles Is Down Tippler!

Tiddles is down Tippler
I remember them owd tipplers too,
Wow! what memories come flooding back.
Them cowd neets having to go out theer,
Wi candle at first, then later came torch.
It was down at bottom of back yard,
It was in a lean too, with a squeaky hinged dooer.
Sitting on top of that "long drop" they called “tippler”.

It must have been about twenty foot drop.
Or it seemed that deep through a child’s eyes.
It still today brings the “shivers” to my booens,
To think about them cold, dark, wintry neets.
Candle kept blowin out and all appeared so spooky.
In corner was a pile of “torn up newspaper”,
This was used to wipe thi bum, rich folk used “San Izal”,
But for us, and most “yesterdays news” it was.

A remember once (maybe twice), cat gooin missing,
A faint “mee how” was heard, comin from down tippler.
“Mum, mum, cats darn tippler! a can see it perched on ledge”.
She’d come out with this long ball of string,
A think she rolled up a newspaper, and tied it on end of string,
And we’d lower it down, gently does it.
Cat wi coaxing would jump from ledge on to “perch”,
And we’d heave up string, to get her back.

Sink watter went from inside house from kitchen sink to tippler,
By means of hidden pipes I’m sure, it crossed that yard below,
It filled the “tippler” to a point, where then it “tippled” over and away.
All this I never give it a thought, as a young un, as if I would.
But it all meks sense nowadays to what med it work.
So tippler toilet that tipped away,
Now your gone, never to see another day,
And at that some would probably say,
That’s no problem and well OK.
Bryan Yorke – 12th September 2012.

I had been going to do a piece on the "owd tippler", but Mike Hogan inspired me to bring it forward and so you have it. Also check out below Mike's (ex pat email) plus other emails. 

(7th September 2012) from Mike Hogan (From South of France). Hi Bryan.Recently I watched a program on the BBC about ‘The unspoken history of the toilet’ ; there seems to be a lot of interest in this subject lately as Bill Gates has invited inventors to develop a form of toilet which does not need water and therefore can be used in third world countries.The program showed the development of the toilet systems through the ages which culminated in the late 19th century invention of the porcelain ‘cuve’ with the integrated S bend which is still in use in most homes at the present time.I was surprised that there was no mention of the ‘tippler’ system which was very common in terrace houses when I was growing up in Haslingden.I have talked about this system to other Brits who live over here but nobody has heard of it and I also think that when I was at school in Accrington I never saw one there either.Was this a uniquely Haslingden invention? It would be interesting to know exactly how it functioned, I think that it was flushed by the rainwater which came from the gutters of the houses. I remember that it was a great mystery as to what was at the bottom of the very dark and very deep earthenware tube and being curious we used to light pages of newspapers and drop them down but were never really able to see what was there.RegardsMike

(12th September 2012) from Susan.Hi ,Not unique to Haslingden as I lived in Oswaldtwistle, we did not have one but my Aunt did. It turned over when water from the house,(Kitchen as no bathrom then) filled it and when full it tippled over. Hence the smell was not very nice. No toilet paper we used newspaper.Susan.

(16th September 2012) from John Sumner.

Hi Bryan
My gran was still using a tippler toilet right up to the late 80s as she didn't get a bathroom fitted till then.
Always remember the long walk down the yard especially in the middle of winter. I lived with my gran for a while & it was my job to empty the tin chemical toilet we used overnight every morning.
As sue says ours was flushed by water from the kitchen sink into a large v shaped clay trough which tipped when full. Many's the time it got stuck & we had to lift the stone slab & poke it with a stick to free it.
We lived on East View in Rising Bridge & up to me leaving in mid 90's every house in the block still had coal sheds & tippler toilets except No 12 which was the mill masters house / offices & pay office.

(25th September 2012) from Sheila Bell.

Hi Bryan
Just a few thoughts about tipper toilets. You will see I use the word tipper and not tippler the reason for this being that I was Rossendale's first female Environmental Health Officer and tipper toilets or waste water closets were part of my daily work experience. It was drummed into me during my training not to refer to them as 'tipplers' and so I have always been particular about this. They were to be found throughout Rossendale but Haslingden probably had more than its share. They were made by Ducketts I think in Burnley.

I first came across tipper toilets (or tipplers as we all called them) when I was a young girl visiting my Auntie in Clayton Le Moors - I was scared to death of the long dark drop beneath the huge wooden seat and decided it was safer to 'wait' than to 'go'.

Then at the age of 17/18 to my horror my parents bought a house in Helmshore without telling me that it had a tipper toilet. Suffice it to say that it was removed rather rapidly at my insistence.

I remembered the plumber at that time saying something about the inspector coming round from the council and that we had 'got away with it' but none of us understood what it was we had 'got away' with. That was until I started my job as an EHO and the workings of the tipper toilet were demystified for me. I realised that what we had 'got away with' a few years earlier was not removing the trap at the bottom of the long drop. To do so meant a deep dig to the very bottom of the tipper shaft to remove the u shaped trap which separated the tipper from the main sewer so that sewer smells did not vent up the tipper shaft. Understandably plumbers were reluctant to undertake this dig even though it formed part of the grant specification (this work was grant aided at that time), so if the inspector was unfamiliar with tipper toilets or just not vigilant enough the trap would remain in situ.

Furthermore some plumbers would also try to get away with leaving in the tipper box which was usually to be found covered by a loose flag or manhole cover in the yard between the tipper shaft and the house sink. This tipper box was on brass pivots and shaped such that when filled with enough waste water it would tip and flush out the drain at the bottom of the shaft passing through the trap before joining the main sewer. This was the loud rushing noise that scared you half to death if you happened to be sitting on the toilet when the box tipped and its large volume of water cascaded down the long drop. There is a sketch at this link :-
Both the tipper box and trap, if not removed when replacing the tipper toilet with a fresh water flush toilet, were liable to cause major problems.

If the new inside flush toilet waste passed into the tipper box it might work ok for a time but sooner or later the pivots would seize and the box would collect sewage from the bathroom until the land beneath the surface of the yard was awash with sewage and its associated aroma and overflowing sink waste drain would give the game away.

As for the trap - I have seen tipper shafts full of compacted faeces as the trap became blocked allowing slow seepage of liquids but not allowing any solids to pass through to the sewer. The digging job that ensues in both of these cases is far less desirable than the original dig that ought to have been carried out at the time of the conversion work.

Only last week a friend came across a property in Haslingden where both tipper box and trap had been left in situ with a full house bathroom running through them for years and amazingly without problem. These are now in the process of being removed.
Hope this is of some interest
Best wishes
Sheila Bell (nee Waller)